dance4empowerment featured on Channel 7 News (link)

If you were unable to catch dance4empowerment’s feature on Channel 7 News’ “Class Act” segment, you can watch it online at http://www.whdh.com/story/24538330/class-act-sierra-weiss-waltham-gann-academy.

In addition, we are now accepting donations on our website,dance4empowerment.com. Donations will help fund our program including staff and supplies. Every donation makes a difference!

Thank you all for your support!!

Dance, move, and empower,

Sierra

Honored to Receive Channel 7 News’ Class Act!

Last Thursday I was sitting in my biology class working on a lab report when a TV crew came in and started setting up.  Not sure what was going on, I continued to work with my lab partner; the last thing I expected was that our surprise visitors were there for me.  Before I knew it, two reporters from Boston’s Channel 7 News began to explain why they were visiting our classroom. 

The Class Act is a special feature on Channel 7 News that highlights “students who deserve to be recognized for doing something outstanding academically, athletically or for their community”.  To my surprise, they were presenting the award to me!  Gann Academy, my high school, has been extremely supportive of the work I’ve been doing for children with disabilities through dance4empowerment and nominated me for this award.  This recognition is humbling and I am grateful to be part of such a compassionate community. More importantly, the award provides me the opportunity to get the word out about dance4empowerment because, in the end, our goal is to improve the lives of the participants in the program.

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The mission of dance4empowerment is to help children with disabilities improve their self-esteem, social integration, and cognitive awareness through dance.  Further, we want to empower them to share their new skills of “creative expression” to raise money for communities that lack funding for inclusive art programs.  Being a recipient of Channel 7’s Class Act award helps me share dance4empowerment’s mission with the greater community and to reach more perspective students.  I feel very fortunate to receive this award because of the affect I know it will have on many future students.

I would like to thank Gann Academy for all their support and to Channel 7 News for featuring dance4empowerment on their program; I will share the date and time that the feature will be airing!

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Dance, move, and empower,

Sierra

Dancing with Inclusion -Jay Ruderman

I am so honored to introduce Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, as a guest blogger for dance4empowerment.  His dedication to raising awareness, providing opportunities, creating change for people with disabilities in Boston, Israel, and throughout the world is truly inspiring.  I am very fortunate for his support in my endeavors to create and expand dance4empowerment.  

Dance, move, and empower,

Sierra

 

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I am President of a foundation that believes in the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community and society at large. Some would say it’s a lofty idea but too hard to implement. It’s too difficult to change people’s perceptions, tough to erase pre-existing prejudices, too costly or we’re just not ready. I hear this all the time and my answer is: it takes two to tango.

Before learning to dance, you size up your partner: they may not be the same height or same weight, they look clumsy, they’re nervous. In short, they look different from you and you’re very unsure how this will work out. 

But then the music starts. You begin to move in tandem, you work together, you start to move flawlessly across the dance floor. Suddenly, what seemed like a potential weakness becomes a strength: you play off of each other. It takes time, it takes patience and you’ll have to work through many potential failures and missteps. But at the end of the journey, you’ve learned to tango! 

Inclusion is not as difficult as it seems. Yes, some people with disabilities may look or act different. Yes, it takes time and patience to work with them, get to know them and learn how to include them. But EVERYONE has potential, everyone can contribute, everyone can improve our community.

The Jewish community is an amazing community, one that is dedicated to social justice, tikkun olam (healing the world) and has been at the forefront of every social movement of the last half century. We have the ability to exact lasting change within society at large. The time has come to do the same within our own community for the 20% of our people who have a disability.

It takes two to tango. Take the first step. The end results will be extremely satisfying.

Jay Ruderman is the President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.